Dressage requires lot of patience to become successful at it. In this Master Dressage Addendum entry I am going to expand upon this and impart to you the right mindset for doing well at dressage. Humans are good at seeing just a little into the distance, but we rarely go beyond that. People who can see further into the future tend to be more successful. They refuse to focus on short term gain, or short term pleasure but instead take all the necessary steps needed to achieve their goal. Brian Tracy, a prolific author on success, says that successful people always ask themselves, do their current actions and thoughts align with the future goal they are striving towards. If you get cross or frustrated whilst riding, with yourself or your horse, and act irresponsibly then does that help you towards you long terms goals? You feel bored and decide to go hunting with your horse, who you know gets a bit mental about the whole thing, but does thing help you train him to pay attention and remain calmer? Lets have a look at ‘Patiences with yourself’, ‘Patience with your horse’ and ‘Patience with competitions’.

In a later Master Dressage Addendum I am going to put together a whole section of goals and planning.

Patience with yourself

“Surely I ought to be able to do this by now?” – it is very easy to get frustrated with your own ability or your own progress. This will transit itself to the horse, and often lead to a rider who is trying to hard, and degrading their riding to ever more unsubtle methods of riding in an attempt to make something happen. There is an amusing link below from Yoda will illustrates the point 🙂 …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ4yd2W50No

Do, or do not… there is no try. Trying tends to look a lot different to doing, with the rider putting in too much effort into the wrong places. Trying often looks like failing, despite our entire culture telling us ‘if only you tried a bit harder’. When you find yourself trying hard and getting nowhere, what does this tell us? Are you at fault? Are you faulty? Can you not ride? Are you untalented? NO is what I say to all of these.

If you find yourself struggling, you should question what it is you are attempting to achieve, and the means with which you are achieving it. After 26 years of riding, I can tell you that when you use the right ‘how’, it works. It does’t vaguely work, it doesn’t sometimes work and sometimes not, it just works. I have had many of these ‘Ah-ha!’ moments when I ‘get it’ and suddenly everything works. Of course, you get it and lose it and get it and lose it, but when you body hits upon the right combination it just works. When you struggle and nothing seems to be working, you should ask yourself:

  • Am I doing it right?
  • Has it been described to me well enough?
  • Do I know what it should feel like when it is right?
  • Have I seen another rider achieving the same thing, perhaps with my horse?
  • Can I work out what the rider is doing to achieve the same result?
  • Can I get another opinion on what I am working on?
  • Is this ‘thing’ I am trying to achieve beyond my horse’s current ability?

I already mentioned in the book about ways to focus and delete unhelpful thoughts, so that can help too. Its important to have realistic expectations for yourself and your progress. Its important not to attach too much importance to things when they go wrong. Mary Wanless suggests people use the word ‘oops’ when you make a mistake, and then simply move on, learning what you can from the mistake but not paying it much attention beyond that. Worrying about mistakes tends to be very unhelpful and steals valuable focus from the here and now.

I will be adding more on this subject tomorrow for members.